Thank you for taking the time to view my instructable, I hope you enjoy making it as much as I did. This is a SOLAR POWERED / RAIN USING complete gardening system.
My wife and I have been gardening for some time growing different vegetables because, well... homegrown is just better to us, you cant compare. The only downside is the amount of time it takes watering them through the day. As many others, I was careless once or twice and skipped watering it causing my crops to become sad and die.
This was not something I wanted to become a regular thing so I started thinking what I could do to alleviate my problem. I wanted something that I could "Set and Forget" and did not tie into any supplies from the house. Trying to be "eco-friendly" I decided to use a combination of RAIN & SUN & SOIL to make it all happen.
My logic is: If the sun is out and hot, the plants get watered, once the sun lowers intensity, the water will flow less. No sun, no water. During the rain, the water gets replenished, during the sun, the plants get watered. During the harvest, I get fed... jejeje
This is what we have been able to keep growing with just this system:
Tomatoes - 1 Roma and 1 Plum?
Peppers - 2 Habañero, 2 Jalapeño, 2 Serrano
Bellpeppers - 1 Red, 1 Yellow, 1 Green
Lettuce - 2 Iceberg, 2 Romaine
Cucumbers - 1 Burpless, 1 Short (Forgot name)
Others - 1 Cilantro, 1 Mint, 1 Basil, 1 Thyme, 1 Rosemary
In total, I water 22 plants with this system.
I don't water any more, I just enjoy!!!
Here is what I did to make this our garden irrigation system run with the power of nature:
PRE-STEP: MATERIALS LIST
For the garden bed(s) - STEPS 1-4
GARDEN BED LINER - OPTIONAL
For irrigation system - STEPS 5-8
SOLAR POWERED FOUNTAIN PUMP
DRIP IRRIGATION KIT
Step 1: CUT THE WOOD (you Thought I Was Going to Say Cheese Didn't You?)
Grab some scrap wood and cut the pieces to whatever size you want the boxes to be. Since there are 4 sides, make sure you have enough for the depth your plants will need. Also, if your pieces of wood are thin, cut small stubs to join the corners and sides.
I had thin pieces of wood so I had to ensure I had enough to double stack my sides.
Step 2: ASSEMBLE IT
Make sure you have selected the best spot to set your new garden box by ensuring the sun hits it the mayority of the day and the soil is soft(er). Begin attaching the wood to make all the sides first, then join them one by one.
Put the box together first to ensure you will be able to fit everything where you want it, nothing is worse than having to destroy what you have just built.
- OPTIONAL STEP -
If you bought the liner, flip the box over and staple the liner to the perimeter of the box. I did not have a stapler handy so I used small nails, worked just as great. To make sure it was all covered, I installed it in strips so everything would be tight.
This helps if you are not going to clean up the ground where you will be putting the garden as it stops weeds from growing into your garden box.
Step 3: FILL UP - PAT DOWN
Now that you have your box, fill up the box with your selected soil. We used Miracle Grow Garden Soil as it is safe and we have had much success with it in the past.
Once you have filled it, give it a pat-down and give it some water.
Step 4: PLANT 'EM
Make sure to leave space between your plants, you will want to make sure tomatoes are far apart as they will suffocate each other. Cucumbers need space upward and outward so those will also need distance from other plants.
I have found that a grid pattern makes the most sense for my taste. We plant in sections, such as peppers, tomatoes, lettuces/leaf greens, cucumbers, etc...
Step 5: LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
Choose the best place to have your rain catcher, use the gutters to your advantage to "direct" the water onto your rain catcher. I had to dig a little to ensure a perfect fit and stability as we have a sloped yard. In a way, your house is the rain catcher, this is just a water storage tank.
Ensure there is a spot you can mount the solar panel, remember the more sun it receives, the more pressure in the system.
Step 6: INSERT PUMP
Grab the drip kit and take the tubing with adapters out and fit them to the water pump. My raincatcher has a removable grid at the top for access to the inside, I took this grid off and dropped the water pump inside. Make sure the wires and tubing are connected to it.
Add some water to the rain catcher and plug in the pump, if you get water coming out of the other end, you're in business! It might take a while depending on sunlight and how much the water has to travel "up" the tube.
Step 7: DRIP YOUR PLANTS
The best way to water your plants is to moisten the soil and hit the roots, not the plant itself. We are going around the garden and putting a drip next to each plant ensuring to install it as close to the stem as possible without damaging the roots of the plants.
Don't pre-make the system, go ahead and cut each piece at a time, you will find sometimes you will want to change where you run the hose due to pressure issues, functionality, or aesthetics.
Step 8: FINISH IT
Reconnect the solar panel and check your pressure all around. If there is insufficient pressure at the end, make a loop so the water comes in from both sides of the tube. This has worked well for me. If necessary, get a second pump and connect one per end in the system or distribute the plants per pump.
If you are worried because your area does not get much rain, you can make a hole on the side of the rain catcher and install a water level valve connected to your faucet. Make the hole to the bottom portion, this way, you only use the necessary amount until the rain fills it up again.
I HOPE YOU HAVE ENJOYED IT AND ARE INSPIRED TO USE NATURE TO ENHANCE YOUR LIFE!
PLEASE VOTE FOR ME IN THE CONTEST IF YOU THINK THIS IS WORTH IT.